Friday, 8 April 2016
THE BROTHER WITHOUT A NAME ... OR NOT
A Daughter Wonders
Their conversation was casual
at dusk, in the bedroom
and she cannot remember
how they got onto the topic
It's not like they talked about
it often, but it did come up
the matter of her brother's
The night he arrived
Was this the first time she'd
learned this detail
That he'd arrived un-named?
Too Late, a Daughter Wonders
I wish that she was still here
so that I could ask her if she
really told me this
Why would she lie to me about
this? What was the point?
It's not like I didn't already
ache for him in so many ways
But to tell me he arrived at
their house without even a
name ... why would she tell
me that, if it wasn't true?
Betrayed and Angry, a
Going through her things
was mostly routine; she was
so organized, just as she was
when alive. But papers are
papers and each one needed
to be examined - then filed
Finding our adoption papers
was a bit jolting but I didn't
expect any surprises - wrong.
I found your real name.
You had one! After she'd told
me you came to them without
any moniker, it turns out
they had just completely
changed the one you were
given ... what the hell?
Bereft and Unquestioning
The night she told me you were
not only delivered in the dark
of night, convulsing and screaming
the house down, but, worst of all -
"poor little babe - he had no name"
I remember having to strain to hear
her, lean in close, right near her
mouth; and I made her repeat it.
"What?" my voice sounded ultra-
loud in the quiet of her bedroom
"What did you say ..."
She was crying then, but spoke
a little louder, "He had no name,"
she whispered, "When the Children's
Aid women were leaving, we asked
them - what should we call him?"
And they told us, "...whatever you
want ... nobody's named him yet..."
Then we both wept, hugging.
Is it possible she never saw your
birth certificate herself? I want
to believe this, I do.
Things I Knew, But Didn't Share
In common knowledge realms,
it's said that our memories don't
reach back to babyhood, but I
remember the night I was dropped
at my adoptive parents. I do. And
clearly. Maybe it's because the
story has been told so often, I
just think I remember it, but I
don't think so. There are too
many sensory details that are
beyond the scope of anyone else's
memory, that I can recall ...
Like how the dark felt wet even
though it wasn't raining.
How hot my skin was - I could
feel the heat through the skimpy
blanket I was wrapped in.
(I didn't find out 'til later, I was
running a high fever - an
almost fatally high fever.)
The business about my name?
I remember that too - being
called something at the foster
home - it had two syllables
and they weren't "hey you".
A Mother's Regrets
She's going now. I hear her locking my door, so careful.
I wish I could let her know how much I love her; I know
she never believes me, I can see it on her face, in the way
she so gingerly hugs me and then pulls away.
What did I do tonight that was so upsetting? It's so hard
for me to remember what I did, or said, from one minute
to the next. This getting old is such a tiresome event.
I am wracking my brain trying to think what we talked about.
Somehow, we always reminisce about things. I guess that's
natural, to be expected, at my age, and even at hers. Oh,
oh, I remember! We were talking about her brother, my son;
since he died, she's been thirsty for information about him.
Oh yes, now I recall. I told her about his unlucky naming or
non-naming, I guess is closer to the truth of it. I thought I'd
told her this ages ago, but I could tell by the shock on her face,
she either had no recollection or had not heard it before.
It is awful, if you think of it, having a baby over a year - and
never naming the child! Never? I remember his father and I
just staring at each other, saying in sync - we'll call him
"William, John" as if we'd decided it before hand
We hadn't, but it seemed so important and just felt right
Of course, William was a pretty large handle for such a wee
boy (he was big for his age, but still) and we all started calling
him Billy and Bill right then, that night, and from there on.
The prompt was supplied by Harold Abramowitz and is described below, as is more about this interesting poet.
Write something you cannot remember: a memory of something – a story, an anecdote, a song, another poem, a recipe, an episode of a television program, anything, that you only partially or imperfectly remember. Write multiple versions, at least 6, of this memory.
I did do six versions of this maybe memory, and they are from these points of view ... (even thought four versions are from my point of view - one in the third person - they're all from different times.)
#1 - third person, mine, #2 - first person, mine #3 - first person, mine #4 - first person, mine
#5 - first person, my brother #6 - first person, my mother
More from Harold Abramovitz
Much of my work focuses on trauma. In my work, I attempt to use innovative narrative and poetic techniques and forms to work around the felt experience of trauma. For example, my book Dear Dearly Beloved consists of a series of love letters in which the narrator tries, and fails, and tries again, to make sense of an incredible loss. In my novella Not Blessed, an unmentioned public trauma—war—disintegrates a shifting narrator, as he idealizes an idyllic childhood memory that cannot possibly be true. My hope is that my work will challenge the reader to rethink—both emotionally and intellectually—our relationships to what we believe we know.